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Houston Garden Tips September 2016

New seedlings just planted in Houston

September Garden Tips

Hey y’all! We hope you’ve gotten a bit of relief from the heat with this week’s rains. Summer isn’t quite done with us yet but,we’re almost through with it and if we want to have a great fall garden we will have to brave the heat for a while to prep for a bountiful harvest for months to come. Yes. You will have to go out into the blast furnace. So, put on your grown up pants and get outside. It will be totally worth it! We promise.

The first step in preparing your garden is to refresh your soil with a 2-4” layer of quality organic compost. We use the “Vegan Compost” from The Ground Up  or the Leaf Mold Compost from Nature’s Way Resources. Once you’ve pulled out all of your tired summer veggies just turn the soil a bit with a hand rake or garden hoe and then top it all off with the compost. The added organic matter will replenish beneficial organisms and add degradable materials to the soil to improve air circulation and water retention. Adding compost is a must! If you’ve already planned your fall garden and have seeds and transplants ready to go, GREAT! Plant away! If not, a layer of pine straw (pine needles from your yard are fine) will keep weeds at bay until you’re ready to fill the beds with new plants. Regardless, a 1-2” layer of mulch will help retain moisture and keep your compost fresh.

What to plant???? With shorter days and cooler weather coming we need to look for veggies and herbs that will thrive in those conditions. Not to worry, if you’re reluctant to let go of your cucumbers and tomatoes, you’re in luck! If you plant early in the month (Before Sept.10th!!) we still have time reap a good harvest of ‘maters and cucumbers! You’re welcome!

Cool-season vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, mustard, lettuce, and kohlrabi can be planted September through January, look for seeds or transplants to add to your garden. Here’s a list of what we can plant for the next 30 days or so in the Houston area:

Bush and pole beans (8/1 – 9/15)

Lima beans (8/1 – 9/15)

Broccoli transplants* (9/15 – 10/31)

Brussels sprouts (8/1 – 10/1)

Cabbage transplants* (8/1 – 9/15)

Chinese cabbage (8/15 – 9/15)

Carrots (9/1 – 10/15)

Cauliflower transplants* (8/15 – 9/15)

Swiss chard (8/1 – 10/15)

Cucumber (8/1 – 9/15)

Kohlrabi (8/15 – 9/15)

Spinach (9/1-4/1)

Kale (8/25-1/15)

Parsley (8/15 – 10/1)

Irish potatoes (8/15 – 9/15)

Lettuce (9/1-1/15)

Tomato(50-80 day varieties) (8/15-9/10)

*Recommended to plant transplants only.

All others can be planted by seed

Now that you’ve planted all of these, what do you feed them? Use seaweed spray such as Microlife Seaweed to boost the immune system of plants. A healthy plant is more resistant to insect infestations and fungal problems. A spray-down every two weeks that covers the entire surface of all leaves will do the job.

Continue slow, deep watering to encourage proper root growth and prevent runoff.  Watering longer and less often encourages deep root growth and healthier plants. If you don’t have one of our drip irrigation systems, soaker hoses or a regular hose turned on to a slow drip are good ways to do this.

Pests. If you plant it they will come. Blast off sucking insects (aphids, mealybugs/scale, etc) with water and/or spray with insecticidal soap(a tsp. of dish soap in a gallon of water will work too). Leaf miners are active on citrus, they will not kill your citrus, leave alone or alternate treatments of spinosad and neem to keep them at bay. BT will get rid of cabbage loopers.

So, grab your shades and a big ol’ glass of iced tea and head outside to take care of these tasks and your garden will reward you for months to come. Please stay tuned for our next tip sheet to help you through the fall months!

 

Houston Garden Tips February 2016

Houston Garden Tips & To-Do List February 2016

It’s February and love is in the air. So is the scent of fresh compost! That means it’s time to get back into your garden! Despite our recent weather, spring isn’t here quite yet. So, this is the perfect time to get your garden ready for the spring and summer madness! Prepping the soil is the biggest key to having a healthy garden this spring. Healthy soil produces healthy crops without a lot of external input from you in the form of pest control and fertilizers.

So, without further ado, here is your February Garden To-Do List:

  • If you haven’t done so already, plan your spring and summer garden. Decide what you want to plant and where. Having a garden plan will help keep things organized and help you keep track of what worked well and what you might change in future seasons. Here’s a handy list of veggie varieties that are well suited for our climate .
  • Feed the soil by applying compost to all garden beds. Lightly till your existing soil before adding a 2-4” layer of compost. The fresh compost will mix in with your existing soil.
  • Strawberries can be planted! Be sure to mulch the base of each plant with pine straw to help keep fungus at bay.
  • By the third week of the month, you can plant potatoes 4 inches deep in warm soil.
  • Begin sowing seeds of leaf lettuces, collards, and other greens outdoors; for continuous harvest, repeat sowing every 2 weeks.
  • Although your local nurseries have organic tomatoes ready, hold off until the first week of March; unless you’re going to closely watch overnight low temps and cover your seedlings to keep them from being damaged by frost. If you’re going to babysit those babies, plant away!
  • Plant fruit trees!
  • Prune existing fruit trees, then feed them with a good organic fruit tree fertilizer.

February is a short month so we’ll keep the to-do list short. Make sure to cover each point on the list to ensure that your soil is ready to provide you with a record crop this spring! As always, feel free to contact us with any questions or feedback. Until next time!

Urban-Organic-Gardens-Houston
August/September Garden Tips

Okay, remember that heat I told you about? I’m sure you’re all pretty fed up with it by now. We are. But, if we want to have a great fall garden we will have to brave the heat for a while to prep for a bountiful harvest for months to come. Yes. You will have to go out into the blast furnace. But, it will be totally worth it! I promise.

 

 PREPARE THE GARDEN

The first step in preparing your garden is to refresh your soil with a 2-4” layer of quality organic compost. We use the Vegan Compost from The Ground Up. Once you’ve pulled out all of your tired summer veggies just turn the soil a bit with a hand rake or garden hoe and then top it all off with the compost. The added organic matter will replenish beneficial organisms and add degradable materials to the soil to improve air circulation and water retention. Adding compost is a must! If you’ve already planned your fall garden and have seeds and transplants ready to go, GREAT! Plant away! If not, a layer of pine straw (pine needles from your yard are fine) will keep weeds at bay until you’re ready to fill the beds with new plants. 

 

What to plant????

With shorter days and cooler weather coming we need to look for veggies and herbs that will thrive in those conditions. Not to worry, if you’re reluctant to let go of your cucumbers and tomatoes, you’re in luck! If you plant early in the month (Before Sept. 10th!!) we still have time reap a good harvest of ‘maters and cucumbers! You’re welcome! 

Cool-season vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, mustard, lettuce, and kohlrabi can be planted September through January, look for seeds or transplants to add to your garden. 

 

Here’s a list of what we can plant for the next 30 days or so in the Houston area:

 

  • Bush and pole beans (8/1 – 9/15)
  • Lima beans (8/1 – 9/15)
  • Broccoli transplants* (8/1 – 9/15)
  • Brussels sprouts (8/1 – 10/1)
  • Cabbage transplants* (8/1 – 9/15)
  • Chinese cabbage (8/15 – 9/15)
  • Carrots (8/15 – 10/15)
  • Cauliflower transplants* (8/15 – 9/15)
  • Swiss chard (8/1 – 10/15)
  • Cucumber (8/1 – 9/15)
  • Kohlrabi (8/15 – 9/15)
  • Kale(8/25-1/15)
  • Parsley (8/15 – 10/1)
  • Irish potatoes (8/15 – 9/15)
  • Lettuce (9/1-1/15)

*Recommended to plant transplants only. 

All others can be planted by seed

 

 FEEDING

Now that you’ve planted all of these, what do you feed them? Use seaweed spray such as Microlife Seaweed to boost the immune system of plants. A healthy plant is more resistant to insect infestations and fungal problems. A spray-down every two weeks that covers the entire surface of all leaves will do the job.

 

WATERING

Continue slow, deep watering to encourage proper root growth and prevent runoff.  Watering longer and less often encourages deep root growth and healthier plants. If you don’t have one of our drip irrigation systems, soaker hoses or a regular hose turned on to a slow drip are good ways to do this.

 

PESTS

If you plant it they will come. Blast off sucking insects (aphids, mealybugs, etc) with water and/or spray with insecticidal soap. Leaf miners are active on citrus, they will not kill your citrus, leave alone or alternate treatments of spinosad and neem to keep them at bay. BT will get rid of cabbage loopers.

 

Don’t forget…

…This should be fun! So, grab your shades and a big ol’ glass of iced tea and head outside to take care of these tasks and your garden will reward you for months to come. Please stay tuned for our next tip sheet to help you through the fall months! 

 

If you need help and guidance, or want to schedule a consult, simply contact us!
Cover Crops in your Texas Garden

How to use cover crops to make a stronger, healthier organic garden.

 

Urban Organics Houston garden boxes cover cropA cover crop is a plant or group of plants that grow quickly and provie several benefits to your garden. Cover crops are a great resource that home gardeners can use to enrich soil, keep  weeds at bay and grow better veggies! Several varieties well suited for Texas and the South during summer are:

 

Cowpeas: 

Considered the most productive heat-adapted legume in the United States. The dense growth habit suppresses weeds, provides nitrogen to the soil and helps build the soil when it is turned under. Grow as a summer annual. Also known as Southern peas, black-eye peas and crowder peas.

 

Buckwheat: 

Not many cover crops grow as rapidly and as easily as buckwheat, it is considered the speedy short-season summer cover crop. Other attributes are that it suppresses weeds, provides nectar for beneficial insects(HELPS BEES!!), loosens topsoil and rejuvenates low-fertility soils. Grow as a summer or cool-season annual.

 

Sorghum-Sudangrass hybrids:

Crosses between forage-type sorghums and sudangrass, these grass hybrids are unrivaled in their ability to add organic matter your soil in the heat of our Texas summer. They love the heat, grow tall very quickly, can smother weeds and suppress some nematode species. To get them to grow deeper roots, which helps to break up compacted soil, is to trim them back when they get to about three feet. Grow as a summer annual. They are not frost tolerant. Also known as Sudex or Sudax.

 

‘No Bare Ground’ should be your motto as a backyard farmer! Always have something growing.

Urban-Organics-Houston
Garden To Do List June 2015

The easy guide to start your summer garden off right

 

Well folks, it’s officially Summer! Late sunsets, family BBQ’s, bountiful harvests, iced tea and HEAT! Those of you who’ve been in Houston know that I’m not talking about your run of the mill hot. We have a special kinda hot down here. There’s hot and then there’s Houston Hot. Many natives refer to it as [expletive] hot, which adequately describes it. But that’s a whole different topic…

By taking a few precautionary steps at the beginning of the season, you can help your garden survive and thrive through the humid furnace approaching us. 

Check your Irrigation

First, check and test your irrigation systems to ensure they’re functioning properly. With all of the rain we’ve been getting lately you shouldn’t have to be watering much at all. If you’re using our drip irrigation kits, turn on your water and check the grid for any leaks. Pay close attention to the connection areas. Give each corner compression fitting an extra push for good measure. Then, make sure your grid is sitting on top of the soil in your beds. 

Add Compost

Next, add a 1-2” layer of compost to your garden and lightly scratch it into the soil with a hand rake. Adding a layer of fresh compost will provide the soil with fresh organic matter which will also leave behind readily available nutrients for your plants as it breaks down. 

Pruning

Prune any low hanging leaves and branches on your veggies and herbs. You don’t want any leaves touching the soil. Prune your veggies and herbs to allow at least 3-6” of clearance between the soils surface and your lowest leaves.  This will allow air to circulate and reduce the chances of leaf mold and other soil borne bacteria from splashing onto the leaves during rain.

Mulch it

Finally, mulch… Add a thick (2-3”) layer of organic mulch to the top of the garden bed. Mulching your garden beds will help conserve moisture and keep weeds down. The layer of mulch acts as an umbrella, of sorts, and keeps the water from your drip irrigation system from evaporating on soils surface. We recommend native mulch that’s been slightly “cooked”(composted). It lasts longer and will also provide a steady supply of fresh compost and nutrients to your soil. Happy soil = Happy plants! You can also use straw or fine bark mulch. NEVER use dyed mulch! Dyed mulch is colored using a chemical process that can then leech into the soil your trying to keep happy and healthy. 

Now for the Fun Stuff

Once you’ve completed these must-do things, use our June Garden Checklist throughout the rest of the month to keep your garden producing its best:

 

June Garden Checklist

  • There’s still time to plant Eggplants, pumpkin, collards, tomatoes and squash from seed for a fall crop. 
  • Plant mustard and turnips from seed for harvesting tender baby greens.
  • You can also continue planting corn, cantaloupe, okra, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, southern peas, summer squash and bush beans. 
  • Plant a cover crop in vacant beds. Read our tips on how to use cover crops
  • Keep an eye out for pests! Aphids and leaf footed bugs on tomatoes and other plants can cause serious damage. 
  • Provide water nearby for birds so they don’t peck at the fruits of your labor looking for moisture. 
Have a glass of cold iced tea while you sit back and enjoy all you’ve done to prepare your urban organic garden for summer.

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